After hovering around record lows for the past few years, mortgage rates are rising dramatically. That has consumers not only shopping more but also considering adjustable rate mortgages, which offer lower rates and lower monthly payments.
These ARMs, many requiring interest payments only, were popular during the latest housing boom but quickly fell out of favor when safer, fixed-rate loan rates fell to record lows. ARMs accounted for 36 percent of mortgages in 2006 but just 4.5 percent today, according to Lender Processing Services.
The shift to ARMs is not visible on a grand scale yet, but it is beginning.
The average contract rate on the 30-year fixed rate rose to 4.46 percent from 4.17 percent, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday. At the beginning of May, rates were as low as 3.5 percent. Concern that the Federal Reserve will begin to pull back on its purchases of mortgage-backed bonds, which pushed rates so low in the first place, caused the most recent spike.